Authorities said Sunday that they believe they have found the body of an 87-year-old Medford man who has been missing since December.
A Rogue River man in search of firewood near milepost 9 of Upper Grave Creek Road told police that at about 11 a.m., Sunday, he had found a vehicle that matched the description of the one belonging to Truman Tollefson — with a deceased man on the ground nearby.
Family members reported Tollefson missing on Dec. 5, when he left his residence on the 1800 block of Brookhurst Street in Medford and never returned.
Detectives from the Medford Police Department, and Jackson County Sheriff's Department deputies confirmed upon arrival at the scene that the vehicle was Tollefson's 1981 Buick Century.
Investigators said in a news release that they believe the body found near the vehicle is that of Tollefson, although a positive identification has not yet been made.
Police do not suspect foul play. The Jackson County Medical Examiner's office will be working on a positive identification. Tollefson's family has been notified of the discovery of the vehicle and the body.
"He doesn't look like he's the victim of a crime. We're going to take a closer look at it to make sure we didn't miss anything from the initial investigation," said Medford Police Lt. Mike Budreau.
According to investigators who surveyed the scene, Tollefson's vehicle appeared to have become stuck when the driver tried to turn around at a dead end portion of Upper Grave Creek Road. The driver looks to have exited the vehicle and died nearby.
"He probably got lost and drove up there, and has probably been up there since the day he went missing," Budreau said.
The man who found the vehicle was in the area to cut firewood and had to remove a fallen tree which had blocked the road, according to a news release.
"We don't know how long that log was blocking the road way. That's a very remote area, it had a pretty decent amount of snowfall during the winter," said Budreau.
"He was exhibiting some memory issues, very recently before he went missing," Budreau added.
According to family members, the week before Tollefson had gone missing he had gotten lost driving home and parked in a neighbors driveway, and then later when he located his home he parked in the front yard.
Shortly after Tollefson's disappearance in December, Medford police assisted by the Sheriff's Department's Search and Rescue team performed ground and aerial searches of many rural areas from Highway 140 to Dead Indian Road, Highway 66, and Interstate 5.
"There was a lot of effort put into finding him because time was of the essence," Budreau said. "It was just starting to get cold and snow, we knew we had to find him soon or we could certainly lose him."
Even though Tollefson had last been seen at Well Fargo Bank on East McAndrews Road in Medford at 5:13 p.m. on Dec. 5, police said they had a theory all along that Tollefson may have gotten lost in a remote area.
According to Budreau, they believed he was lost somewhere in the mountains where there weren't many people because the description of his vehicle had been broadcast all over the news.
"We didn't think it was going to be too far away, because the vehicle is old doesn't get good gas mileage and has no activity on his credit cards," said Budreau, "In Jackson County, it's like finding a needle in a haystack. There are so many remote areas and mountains where people can go missing."
Mail Tribune reporter Mandy Valencia can be reached at 541-776-4486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.